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Tariff is hurting local publications

By Ben Rodgers

Print news industry jobs are under fire as a tariff on newsprint is starting to choke publications across the country.

Tariffs on newsprint (paper) from Canada aren’t getting as much attention as the tariffs on steel or aluminum, but they still are causing major problems for newspapers across America.

Newsprint from Canada is in such high demand because more than a dozen paper mills in the U.S. have ceased operation.

Our neighbors to the north also have a few advantages over U.S. mills due to lower shipping costs and hydraulic power.

The U.S. Newspaper Association reports that if Canadian production of newsprint ceased today due to high tariffs, U.S. mills would not be able to supply publications here with the required product.

One small pulp paper operation in Longview, Washington, has complained to the U.S. Department of Commerce and International Trade about international competition and has fought to make imported newsprint more expensive.

In January of this year the federal department instituted a 6.2 percent increase on imported Canadian newsprint.

That has since increased to where newspaper print operations have seen a 32 percent increase on the cost of newsprint.

What does this mean? It means newspaper publications across the country are scrambling for ways to offset the costs. This means smaller papers and could lead to reduced staff.

But there is hope. Congress has introduced bipartisan legislation in the Protecting Rational Incentives in Newsprint Trade or PRINT Act.

Two Senators from Maine have introduced the PRINT Act that has garnered support of printers and publishers that represent more than 600,000 U.S. jobs.

“The U.S. printing and publishing industry is facing an unprecedented threat from crippling new import tariffs imposed on Canadian uncoated groundwood paper – better known as ‘newsprint’ – which is used by newspapers, book publishers, and commercial printers,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). “As a Senator representing one of our nation’s leading papermaking states, I have consistently fought for actions to ensure a level playing field for the domestic papermaking industry. In this case, however, one domestic mill owned by a venture capital firm appears to be taking advantage of trade remedies to add to its own bottom line, putting thousands of American jobs at risk. I encourage my colleagues to support this bipartisan bill to fully evaluate the economic impact of these tariffs before they harm our local newspapers and printing industries.”

Nearly all of the U.S. paper industry opposes these import taxes, including the association representing the entire industry, the American Forest and Paper Association.

It understands the Department of Commerce’s action threatens to decimate the paper industry’s customers and injure printers and publishers.

We put out a call to you, our readers, that if you enjoy the local news we provide, let our lawmakers in Washington D.C,. know you support the PRINT Act and local community journalism.

Wisconsin currently has no co-sponsors on this bill.

Let Rep. Mike Gallagher, Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin know that the PRINT Act is vital to keeping you informed on what’s happening in your community.

It’s as easy and typing their name and “contact” into an online search engine to send them an email.

Every voice counts. Together we can let them know how important the PRINT Act is to keeping your local newspaper alive.

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